SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — As the protests continue, so does the demand for change. But we’ve seen this before, and the question now is, how long will it last and what will it accomplish?
At each protest voices are raised in a collective sense of outrage. And there is a general demand that things must change, but “change” means different things to different people on the streets of Berkeley
“Well, I would like to see people stop destroying each other and stop labeling each other, black, white, blue or green.” said Michael Brown.
“I think there should be screening, like, psychological testing for people,” said David Smith, “because I know certain people, they use the position of power and they abuse it.”
Obviously, the main intent of the protests is for African Americans to be treated with respect and dignity by police and society in general. Professional life coach La Shawn Wells, also an African American man, has made a living helping people achieve change in their lives. But he says for goals to become reality they must be measurable and well-defined.
“If you don’t do that you have a bunch of energy behind something and then it goes away, like we’ve seen,” said Wells.
That’s what happened following the Rodney King riots. Much of South Central Los Angeles was ravaged, but the protests never developed a clear goal so it ended with no progress. But when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. marched on Selma, Alabama, the intent was to pass a voter rights bill, and it was successful.
“I think, in the movements in the ‘60’s, Dr. King was focused, they knew what they wanted, people came together,” Wells said. “We’ve had some in-between where people didn’t really seem like they had a plan and for any goal you set you have to be very specific.”
Still, University of California, Berkeley student Aashna Kono noted it’s important to remember that this protest movement only began about a week ago.
“I think it’s natural that in the beginning it’s going to be a lot more about expressing how you feel,” she said. “And then as it goes on, as more people get involved, it’s going to get more specific.”
That may be true, but Wells says you can’t wait too long to do that.
“This seems a little different,” said Wells. “We’re going to be at the crossroads pretty soon where the energy dies, people go back to their shelters-in-place or communities and then what happens? If we can’t define it specifically, and give people exactly what they need to do right now, we will lose it. But I think there is an opportunity.”